water pollution

I believe it’s true.

The harbor mirrors values

Of community.

Overly selfish.

Extravagantly careless,

Thoughtless of others.

This we leave to the future?

Is this our mirror of life?


A haiku and a tanka together.  Is that right?

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Continuing Granddad’s notes on Isaiah 42:3 KJ “…the smoking flax shall he not quench; …” Granddad underlined this phrase and wrote in the margin “foolish virgins, little spark.” So I ask, “What do I make of that?” This is the way I think Granddad would have preached it.

Matthew 25:1-13 Parable of the Ten Virgins. All were virgins, and all were waiting for the groom. When they left their dwelling to go meet the groom, all had some kind of “spark” in their lamps. The five wise took extra oil; the five foolish didn’t. They might not have checked; they might have just hoped they had enough; they might have counted on borrowing from their pals; they might have thought the bridegroom would not tarry so long. Who knows why? But it is evident that they had not prepared adequately to wait for his arrival.

Now for the doctrine Granddad would have passed to me. If a virgin (Christian) does not take care of her relationship with Jesus, if she does not replace the oil by holy living, if she just hopes she is fit and ready for his coming, if she thinks she will not be left because of her past record of burning brightly, or whatever kind of excuse she has, the truth is that she must have some new oil or the spark will go out.

With this in mind, let’s look at why Granddad might have written “little spark” by the phrase “the smoking flax shall he not quench.” That gentle loving Savior (see last post) will woo his virgins, he will lightly blow on the faintest spark to renew a glowing relationship with his lover-bride. He will invite his bride to come into his arms to shield against harsh winds that blow and snuff out the lights in his loved ones. He will not quench the flame, if it goes out it will be because of the virgin’s negligence to renew the oil even in the face of his promise to come for her.

Verse 10 “and while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.” If your lamp goes out, you will not go with the bridegroom. Granddad’s preaching was full of love but not designed for those with itching ears who think that if they once had a flame, it will not go out.


This reminds me of a chorus we use to sing:  Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning; give me oil in my lamp, I pray.  Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning, burning til the break of day.  (I see several instances of this song online, but I do not know the origin.)


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sweet aroma

Welcome to my place.

 “Sweet aroma” joyfully

Waffs a sweet perfume.


(Prompt TJ’s household haiku use Joy and Perfume.)

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basilIt looked so beautiful sitting on the Wal-mart display unit in the veggie section. I reached over and touched the leaf – just a bit more – actually I crushed the leaf. Oh, it smelled so good! I was told it was a basal plant, $3.99, so into the basket it went.

At home I set it in the window over the sink so I could enjoy it. However, it gave no aroma without the crushing process. Each time I bruised it, my fingers radiated aroma from the crushed leaf. That’s the reason I’ve been sitting here rolling this basal leaf between my fingers.  And I remember ………

Granddad Jim preaching “a bruised reed, He (Jesus) will not crush.” – I wonder what I will find if I look in his old Bible. Yes, it is there—Isaiah 42:3– and it is no surprise to me that it is underlined.

He must have painted quite a word picture for me to remember for these many years. His word pictures surely showed a tender Jesus careful not to jostle the weak ones in the crowd, a loving Jesus leaning to lift a fallen woman, a gentle Jesus choosing steps on the hillside which would do the least damage to the flowers blooming there, and perhaps even a smiling Jesus holding a donkey while he waits for his mother to join the caravan getting ready to go into town.

And I am astounded at the love that was shown by God the Father when He chose to bruise this gentle Jesus so He could become my Magnificent Savior! Oh, lean in close, smell the sweet aroma emanating from the risen Christ—the victor over the horrific stench of the bloody cross, that cruel instrument wielded by the harsh treatment of those who were unbroken, but who also were invited by this long suffering, gentle, and loving Savior who prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We are made strong by his crushing.  Strong enough to bear our own crushings.  May his sweet aroma radiate through us in those trying times.

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Stoked embers sparkle

Producing a glowing flame

Lighting memories.

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dove 2

“Do you think God is more likely to answer prayer if I ask others to pray with me?  Is it better to ask a lot of people, like on FB?” I have been asked.  Today I’m going to respond.

So here it is, my answer with a pound of opinion and an ounce of scripture.

There is truth in the statement that when everyone does it, no one does it. Sometimes people fail to do something because they think others will.

The Bible says to call for elders.   Don’t just go to any Tom, Dick, or Harry.  I think that it is even best if one does really call for the elders to come—not just “go forward” during service time.  Which takes more faith from both the pray-ers and the pray-ees? If someone calls me and asks me to come pray, you can bet I’ll hike myself over there with great faith and burden!  I would like to know two or three would be there ”where two or three are together in his name.” Also, I believe it is more likely possible to have unity between two or three than among many.

But  ONE passionate prayer might be enough.  According to James 5:16 “the effectual, fervent prayer of “a righteous man availeth much.”

Paul asked entire churches to pray for him, so I can’t knock congregational prayer requests; however, I think that can turn into gossip, lack of unity, and “leaving it to the others to do the praying.”  

God is not capricious; he is not fickle; he is not moody! He is faithful; he never changes; he is love, always!

I can’t imagine that he would get upset at anyone using every source at their command (including face book) to ask for prayer. I just think the specifics as stated above should be followed, probably first.  And VERY IMPORTANT – the reason for the prayer is important to how many you share with.  Many needs are very personal, or harmful to other people if the specifics are known.  And there is not much safety in “unknown requests.”

Have a prayer buddy (confess your faults one to another… Notice this is confess YOUR faults); take two or three into your confidence (those who will be unified in behalf of your need/one can’t be praying for one answer and the other one for a different answer); call for the elders of the church.  As I said, God is not capricious.  

And remember Psalm 118:8-9 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man/princes.” Keep your confidence in your Lord not in the number, faithfulness, wisdom, nor prayers of man.

If all else fails, be a Daniel. Go it alone.

Some things I would not even share with one person, particularly if it is a need involving relationships.  Take it to the Lord.  He is not into counting numbers.  And gossip flies!  Jesus cares. He says cast our cares on Him. He will listen! I think most of the instructions and formulas are to test one’s obedience anyway. My opinion again!

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So this is my closing remarks on that subject.

Be aware when someone is trying to manipulate you for the purpose of manipulating God. Some time back, I attended a meeting where the leader pitched into the people present because they had come in to the meeting room, sat down quietly and seemed to me to be praying quietly or meditating on the Lord. He berated them/us for not standing with upraised hands. I was among those who were sitting quietly concentrating in a what I thought was a prayerful manner.

Making oneself physically miserable by standing and holding up hands will not move the hand of God anymore than sitting quietly.

I point to the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, who shouted and cut themselves with stones. Flagellation is something the heathens do to impress their gods. Personally I can keep my mind on God more if I am not in pain! 

I want to make it clear that I am not against standing and raising holy hands. I’m even for lifting sinful hands in repentance. I’m all for it when that’s what you want to do. It might impress people but it will not work as a means of manipulating God. 

Have a wonderful day and lift up holy hands unto the Lord! And if they are sinful hands, remember our loving intercessor, Jesus.


An added note:  I am definitely not against any of the “actions” mentioned in this group of posts.  I can find scriptures supporting all of them – preaching, singing, being prayed for by others, fasting, lifting up hands, standing in worship, finding a scripture to hold on to – even clapping your hands, shouting, falling down.  God is a creative God and people are emotional beings.  One cannot see him and be untouched!   I’m against any formula that says any one of these actions will draw you into the presence of God in an cause and effect sort of way – in a way that says, “I’m doing my thing, now God you must do yours (mine).  What God wants is repentance, humility, contrite hearts, obedience, and hungering and thirsting for him.

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God will not be swayed into doing something because one of his “prophets” says he will.

One time in the midst of a need, I received an e-mail assuring me that “My day was going to be blessed, my prayer was going to be answered that day.” How exciting! I hoped it was true. It wasn’t.

I’ve heard people who definitely believed _____(fill in the blank) because Bro. Blank  said it was going to come to pass. God answers prayers prayed in Jesus’ name not in Bro. Blank’s name. Bro. Blank might be a wonderful son of God, but God is not going to be manipulating by Bro. Blank’s promise to you. That sounds very light-weight for most of you, my readers, but I can’t believe the loyalty some people have to a particular minister’s “word” to them.

God will not be forced into action by fasting (a hunger strike)

Thanks to my son, Carl, for bringing to my mind the following scripture. Isaiah 58:1-7 regarding Israel’s motivation for fasting. Fasting must not be a hunger strike! That’s about all I can say because I haven’t fasted much when I didn’t also have a “lose some weight” goal that nudged into my sincerity.  It will not work for manipulating God.  I heard about some prisoners who were on a hunger strike to get the warden to do something – I don’t remember what.  Don’t know what happened, but I doubt that it worked.  If I were the warden I would have saved the food money and put it in a penny bank!  And God is much smarter than I.  He would probably say, “All right, sit and pout – and get hungry.”

That scripture, however, is very appropriate to my subject. They say (Hayes translation) “You’ve seen us fasting and being hard on ourselves and you don’t care one whit!” God answers (Hayes translation) “Yes, I see, but you get no place yelling to make me hear your voices. What I want is for you to (verse 6).” In other words, fasting will get you no where if it is for the purpose of manipulating God!

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I have told you all many times that I am a very “churchy” person.  I believe in the local church for education, worship, fellowship, and outreach.  Sometimes I tell funny stories.  They all go together for my love for the church.  I am not being ugly about church, but one cannot go there for 83 years without a range of experiences.  At least not in my background.  I must confess in recent years I don’t have the same kind of stories.  I’m glad I learned in the little church.

I’m making some observations today that will fit my theme.

1.  Once upon a time we had a preacher in our little church who lacked a few eggs in his egg crate. Kind man and all but… One night he decided he was going to preach until the glory came down. He preached, and preached, and preached, and …by one o’clock most everyone had gone home. My folks were left and what do you do? Walk out and leave him alone? No, but about 2:30 mother got tickled. So she laughed. Did you every start laughing at 2:30 a.m.? I have – with my sisters a couple of times; it is hard to stop! So she laughed some more, and more, and more. Preacher was delighted that the glory had come down! We finally left; he was still preaching.  Manipulation? It didn’t work.

2.  It won’t work with singing either. But I believe I have seen it tried. Now I like singing. I like lots of singing. I like it for praising; I like it for entertainment.  I like it for learning.  I like it for music’s sake. I think God likes it too, for lots of reasons.  But not to set the scene for the preacher.  An anointed preacher does not need to be motivated by a “warmed up” audience.  Neither the singing nor the preacher will manipulate God. 

3.   You have probably heard this advice; maybe even given it. “If you are praying for something, find a scripture to stand on, then stand on it!” You claim “God’s word will not return void” etc.

God has many more scriptures than the one you might “find” to stand on. Many people know Mark 11:23-24 about asking and receiving but not nearly as many cite John 15:7. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you can ask whatever you will and it will be given you.”

Claiming his promises but not fulfilling his conditions, is a giant manipulation maneuver. God will not moved!

Singing until the audience is warmed up will not manipulate God.

Preaching until the power falls will not manipulate God.


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jellyfish in water

A wonder to see,

Jellyfish in deep darkness

A great mystery!


ronovan writes

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